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The Marvels
by Brian Selznick

Writer/illustrator Brian Selznick’s latest book is The Marvels and it is marvelous! It begins with an illustrated story of a ship at sea in 1766 with Billy Marvel. Once on land, the story continues down through the generations of the Marvels, a theater family. Interwoven with this tale is another story, told in words, of Joseph Jervis, who has run away from his boarding school. If you’ve read Selznick’s previous books, bookbookThe Invention of Hugo Cabret  and Wonderstruck, you won’t want to miss this latest book. If you’re new to Selznick, you’re in for a treat! The Marvels will be released September 15th and may be pre-ordered at the store.

See Brian Selznick's cool trailer for the book.


bookLook Both Ways in the Barrio Blanco
Judith Robbins Rose

What if characters like Junie B Jones and Ramona Quimby had been Mexican-American girls with concerns about immigration, culture, and language? That’s the flavor of Look Both Ways in the Barrio Blanco. When pre-teen Jacinta cleverly arranges a mentor/mentee pairing with a white TV news reporter, she initially thinks she’s hit the attention jackpot. It’s not an unreasonable thing for a girl like Jacinta to do—Jacinta is a middle child, old enough to be expected to care for younger family members, and not old enough to wield the power of the oldest. Jacinta’s mother is out of the country, caring for Jacinta’s grandmother in Mexico and Jacinta’s father, having to support his family alone while his wife is gone, is hardly home. Between time spent with a wealthy, famous white woman (or so it appears to Jacinta), time living in a wealthy country as an immigrant, and time spent in Mexico, Jacinta gets a new perspective on wealth, race, and culture. All the while, Jacinta is still a kid who wants what her peers want – attention. At times, Jacinta gets it in amusing if inappropriate ways. I found myself laughing at some moments and longing to reach through the pages and hold Jacinta tight at others. The beauty of this book is the accessibility to middle grade readers (though I encourage anyone to read it!). The author tackles some very real, hot-button issues in this book without it feeling like it’s an “issues book.” The narration is charming, Jacinta is funny, and there’s  much depth to this book. I highly recommend it as a classroom read or read-aloud at home. I plan to press it into the hands of lots of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and parents looking for a great book to read with the kid(s) in their life over their week stay vacation at the cabin.


bookThe Thing About Jellyfish
by Ali Benjamin

This middle grade book would be a great choice for adult book groups! Suzy befriends Franny in elementary school and the two become best friends, but once puberty hits their friendship begins to change and then unravel. By the time Franny drowns, the two aren’t really friends anymore. Rather than face the griefs [plural intended] that surrounded Franny, Suzy focuses on the possibility that Franny was killed by a jellyfish sting. Suzy, drawn to science, does all kinds of research on jellyfish and seeks out experts, including swimmer Diana Nyad, for help. Sometimes Suzy makes bad decisions, like any of us, but is one of the most sympathetic characters I’ve come across. As an outsider, we can see that the dissolving friendship between Suzy and Franny isn’t necessarily anyone’s fault and yet, my heart ached for Suzy. There’s a lot of depth to this book and it has the potential to spark wonderful discussion. This book will be out September 22 and may be pre-ordered.


by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, and Deborah Biancotti

These authors have teamed up to write a fabulous book called Zeroes, the first in a series by the same name. “Zeroes” refers to a group of kids born in 2000 with certain super-powerish powers. These are not your typical powers however, and most of these kids need a crowd in order to access their powers. The powers include invisibility (to the point that others forget this kid exists), the ability to crash technology, the ability to control the mood of crowds, a voice that always knows the perfect thing to say to obtain the wanted result (unless there is nothing to say that will get that result), leadership, and sight through other’s eyes. The brilliance of this book is that it’s somewhat familiar—the idea of humans with special powers is not new, and that’s coupled with some new and different powers. The personalities of the kids in this book are so appealing. Readers will identify with pieces of each character. The adventure they undertake is a great balance between almost-believable and a great fantasy. I look forward to the rest of the series! The book releases September 29 and may be preordered.

Cascade's reviews



Everything Everything
by Nicola Yoon

Madeline Whittier has a condition called SCID (Severe Combined Immunodeficiency) and has never left her house in the 17 years since being diagnosed. She lives with her mother; her brother and father died in an accident when she was very young. She has been fully content with her existence until she sees Ollie, the new neighbor boy. What starts out as a friendship turns into a romantic relationship and suddenly she is Nicola Yoon and Jenquestioning everything… This book is the best book my mother and I have read aloud in a long time and we both HIGHLY recommend it.

Jen recently met Nicola Yoon, the author of Everything Everything.





The Search for Baby Ruby
by Susan Shreve 

Jess is stuck babysitting her niece during her sister’s wedding rehearsal dinner in a hotel room. When Jess gets bored, she starts trying on her sister’s make-up in the bathroom. Upon re-entering the room, Jess discovers that Baby Ruby is gone. Thus commences a wild search for the missing baby. This mystery deals with family and sibling problems and social issues.



The Perfectionists
by Sara Shepard

By the same author as Pretty Little Liars series, this murder mystery is part of a 2 book series involving five high school girls who live in Beacon Heights, Washington.  Each girl has a very different family life with very distinctive character traits.  These girls seemingly have nothing in common until one day in film studies class they discover they have a shared enemy named Nolan. The girls concoct a perfect revenge prank on Nolan who has wronged all of them in some way or another.  At Nolan’s party, the girls lure him up to a bedroom, drug him, and then write awful things on his face in different colored Sharpies. The next day the girls find out that Nolan has died due to a drug overdose. The girls know that they did not drug him enough to kill him but they are the main suspects in his death. They then go about trying to clear their names.



Hitty:  Her First Hundred Years
by Rachel Field

I have been reading all the Newbery Honor and Award winners. While I question why some books won the award, I understand why this book won it. Hitty is a doll carved from mountain ash in the early 1800s. This is the doll’s memoir of her life over one hundred years and chronicles her many adventures with various families around the world. The book won the Newbery in 1930.



Enchantment Lake
by Margi Preus

This is the first book in the “Northwoods Mystery” series.  Francie is at an audition in New York City when she receives a frightening phone call from her aunts saying that they are in danger. Francie immediately drops everything and rushes to her aunts’ lake house in Minnesota. Upon reaching the cabin, Francie realizes her aunts are really not in danger but are just paranoid because of other strange occurrences that have happened on the lake. Francie learns more about these happenings—the fact that people around the lake are “dropping like flies” in unusual accidents. Francie begins investigating on the lake and in the nearby town and is swept up into a bigger mystery than she could have ever imagined.


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